1. Packing a first-down punch
The Packers entered the game ranked second in the league in average yards on first down (6.59). Only the Bears (6.81) were better. In the first half, the Vikings held the Packers to a 4.0-yard average on 13 first-down plays, including 26 yards on 10 carries (2.6). The Packers, however, still converted their first seven third-down situations, tying the most third-down conversions they have had in any other game this season. They went on to convert seven of nine first-half third downs, including a 76-yard touchdown from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. The emergence of a running game has helped the Packers’ passing game be even more explosive. A year ago, the Packers ranked 30th in the league with an average of just 4.79 yards on first down. With 26 first downs, the Packers extended their franchise record of at least 23 first downs to six straight regular-season games. Not counting a kneel-down, the Packers averaged 4.5 yards on 28 first-down plays. RB Eddie Lacy, however, opened the second half with consecutive first-down runs of 9, 11, 9, 7, 8 and a 1-yard TD run.
2. Allen has quiet night
Jared Allen entered Sunday ranked No. 2 in career sacks by a Packers opponent with 17 in 12 games. He exited still one behind former Bears defensive tackle Steve McMichael. Allen, who had 20 QB pressures in three meetings with the Packers a year ago, had one of his quieter games against left tackle David Bakhtiari, a rookie fourth-round draft pick. Allen’s best pressure in the first half resulted in Rodgers taking off for a 12-yard run on third-and-6 on the Packers’ first drive. Three plays later Rodgers threw a touchdown pass. His best pressure of the second half resulted in Rodgers escaping again for 14 yards on third-and-3 at the Vikings 27-yard line in the third quarter. Four plays later, Lacy ran 1 yard for a TD.
3. The rhythm of Rodgers
Don’t feel too bad, Vikings fans. Your team isn’t the only NFC North squad that hasn’t a clue how to knock Rodgers’ rhythm off. After Sunday night’s victory, the Packers quarterback is 14-1 in his past 15 division games (the one loss coming at the Metrodome in Week 17 a year ago). In his past 13 division games, Rodgers has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 3,601 yards, 31 touchdowns and four interceptions. With 464 yards of offense Sunday night, the Packers have posted at least 350 yards in their past 10 games. That’s the second-longest streak in the league behind the Broncos (12).
4. Peterson only 13 more carries
For the third consecutive game, the league’s reigning MVP had 13 or fewer carries. With 13 carries for 60 yards, Adrian Peterson now has only 150 yards and one touchdown on 36 carries (4.2) over the past three games. The Packers had held their past four opponents to fewer than 85 yards rushing. Total, they had given up 276 yards on 88 carries (3.1), an average of 69 per game that ranked No. 1 since Week 3. The Vikings had 111 on 19 carries, but it was a huge victory considering Peterson torched them for 508 yards in three meetings a year ago. Of those 508 yards, 399 of them came after first contact. Peterson carried the ball on the Vikings’ first three touches. He had 12 yards but then got only 34 more on seven more first-half carries.
5. Down goes Ponder
The Vikings offensive line chose to be announced as a group during pregame introductions. Now, if only it could play more consistently as a unit. QB Christian Ponder, making his first start since going 0-3 with seven turnovers, was sacked three times. Part of that also had to do with his indecision and inability to see the field under pressure. The Packers have 20 sacks in their past five games. The 17 sacks in the previous four games was Green Bay’s highest four-game total since it had 17 in Weeks 6-9 in 2006.